Tagliatelle Pesto is a quick and easy vegetarian pasta that takes less than 15 mins to make. Fresh and cheesy with a cream like texture this simple recipe is the perfect fuss free dinner! This tagliatelle al pesto makes week night dinners effortless and full of homemade yum.
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Vegetarian pasta recipe: some nights you want a hearty meat and pasta recipe and some night's you want a much lighter pasta with no heavy after feeling. This vegetarian pasta recipe is full of flavour, yet won't leave you feeling 'ugh' I'm so full heavy 😉.
- Simple, minimal ingredients: there is only a few basic ingredients needed for the recipe. They are all simple and easy to get your hands on at the local shop be it Walmart, Woolies or Tesco.
- Taste and texture: there is something to be said about the nutty herby cheesy pesto and the robust chewy tagliatelle, it is a winning combination!
- Pesto sauce: gives a great alternative visual and flavour difference to a tomato sauce based pasta or bolognese. It is bright, herby and fresh!
- Versatile: add some grilled chicken, pair with a salad, serve with garlic bread or keep it simple pesto tagliatelle. It can be a meal in one, a side or something to balance out a protein based dish.
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Tagliatelle: often referred to as an 'egg noodle pasta'. This product is sold both fresh (fridge section) and dry (pasta aisle). It is wider than linguine and fettuccine but not as wide as pappardelle.
- Basil leaves: fresh and vibrant this is an excellent herb to use in recipes. We only need to trim the stems to prepare the basil for use.
- Pine nuts: the most traditionally used nut to use when making homemade pesto.
- Garlic: fresh cloves or minced from a jar in the fridge will both work.
- Pecorino romano: tastes a little bit sweeter than parmesan cheese, it is made from sheep's milk.
- Olive oil: works as the binding agent to bring the pesto together.
- Lemon juice: fresh and giving the pesto a lift, it adds a citrus tang to the recipe.
Tasty Tip: I like to provide you with a number of substitutions and variations giving you an array of options when making the recipe. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section (further below) before jumping into the instructions on how to make the recipe which are coming next 😉👌.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by making the basil pesto. A food processor is a handy way of doing this and it only takes minutes to combine the ingredients.
- Add basil leaves (Photo 1)
- Then add pine nuts (Photo 2)
- Add garlic (Photo 3)
- Add pecorino romano (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Tagliatelle Pesto
Start by making the pesto in a food processor. Do this by adding the basil, pine nuts, garlic and cheese. Blitz for about 10 seconds to combine.
Then use a spatula to scrap down the insides of the food processor keeping the pesto low in the bowl.
Next pour in the olive oil and blitz again to combine.
- Add olive oil (Photo 5)
- Then add lemon juice (Photo 6)
- Transfer pesto to a small bowl (Photo 7)
- Reserve pasta water (Photo 8)
Next, take a teaspoon and taste the pesto.
Then add in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, blitz and taste it again before adding the remaining juice. You will almost always need 2 tablespoons of the juice, however, tasting along the way enables you to be sure to get the flavour spot on.
Once the pesto is done, you can transfer it to a small bowl, using a spatula to scrap down the insides of food processor bowl to easily get it all out.
Read the instructions on the packet of tagliatelle and follow those to cook the pasta in a medium size sauce pan of boiling salted water.
Before draining scoop out 1 to 2 cups of pasta water and set aside.
Then use a colander over the sink to drain the rest of the pasta.
If it looks a little sticky, you can rinse it under room temperature water then shake the excess water off.
The next steps are to combine the tagliatelle, pesto and pasta water.
- Drain tagliatelle (Photo 9)
- Add pasta and pesto to sauté pan (Photo 10)
- Pour in reserved pasta water (Photo 11)
- Toss and garnish (Photo 12)
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Get your garnish on with basil leaves, more grated cheese and crack some black pepper over the top. This simple combination adds taste and texture and is a delightful way of finishing off the dish 😉👌.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers of the tagliatelle pesto in sealed, airtight containers in the fridge. They can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days and can be consumed hot or cold.
How to Freeze
Allow the dish to fully cool. Then portion into air tight containers or zip lock bags, squeeze the air out then seal. Frozen portions of the dish can be kept in the freezer for 3 months.
How to Reheat
Allow frozen portions to fully thaw in the fridge overnight or on the bench during the day before reheating. Reheat in the microwave (fastest) covered for 3 to 4 minutes. Or you can add the cooked tagliatelle pesto pasta back to a pan on the stove with additional reserved pasta water, turn to medium heat and stir till the pasta is heated through.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- You can use another nut such as pistachios, walnuts or cashews (equivalent amount) in place of the pine nuts.
- There is a variety of pastas that will work with this recipe. Fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti and fusilli are all good options.
- Add some cherry tomatoes or sliced bocconcini balls for pops of colour, extra texture or variety.
- Add some cooked shrimp or leftover heated chicken for extra protein (chicken pesto pasta will give you protein and carbs 😉).
- Squeeze some lemon juice over the top prior to serving for a tasty zing of citrus!
- Use parmesan cheese in place (equivalent amount) of the pecorino romano for the pesto and garnish, if you already have it on hand.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- A spatula is super hand to use when making the pesto as you need to scrape down the insides of the bowl during and also when removing the pesto from the food processor.
- Add a pinch or 2 of salt to the water before adding the tagliatelle to it.
- Boil the kettle and use this hot water to speed up the process of waiting for the water to boil or put a lid on the sauce pan.
- The starchy pasta water helps to get the pesto and pasta to stick together. We take out 1 to 2 cups but only need ½ cup for the recipe. You can however, store leftovers in the fridge in a sealed jar. Pour a little of this onto leftovers and give it a stir to juice it up before heating.
- The heat from the cooked hot tagliatelle will be enough to melt the pesto turning it into a sauce with the pasta water. There is no need to heat it before adding it to the pasta.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
What is a good substitute for pine nuts in pesto?
Pistachios, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts and pecans are all good substitutes for pine nuts in pesto. Use the equivalent amount.
What's the difference between linguine and tagliatelle?
Linguine is a wheat based pasta whereas tagliatelle is a wheat and egg based pasta. Both have a flat wide appearance and tagliatelle is about 2 times the width of linguine.
Is Parmesan or mozzarella better for pasta?
Parmesan cheese is great as a garnish on spaghetti and freshly cooked pasta recipes whereas mozzarella is best used when making a pasta bake and wanting to layer cheese on top of the pasta before baking.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Dinner can be so easy if you have lots of options that offer variety through taste, texture and protein. I know you will love to explore these recipes also:
- Spaghetti Gorgonzola
- Slow Cooker Pulled Lamb
- Pesto Rigatoni
- Gnocchi Gorgonzola
- Meatball Bolognese
- Greek Lamb Shanks
- Baked Meatball Subs
- Easy Lamb Bolognese
- Linguine Bolognese
- Fettuccine Bolognese
Time once more to get our zesty fresh pesto party and twirl on my friend. You can also find all of my pasta recipes in the one spot.
- 1 Food processor
- 1 Sauté pan
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Kitchen Tongs
- 1 Medium sauce pan
- 1 Colander
- 1 Heatproof jug
- Measuring cups
- Measuring Spoons
- 3 cups basil leaves loosely packed, leaves trimmed from stems
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup pecorino romano cheese freshly grated
- 500 grams/1 pound tagliatelle
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- cracked black pepper
- pecorino romano
- basil leaves
- Make the pesto: add the fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts and pecorino romano cheese to the food processor bowl and blitz for about 15 seconds. Then scrap the inside edges down with a spatula to keep all of the ingredients low in the bowl.
- Olive Oil: drizzle in the oil and blitz for around 5 seconds to combine. Then take a teaspoon and test a little bit of the pesto.
- Lemon juice: pour in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and blitz to combine. Use the spatula again to scrape down the insides of the bowl. Take the teaspoon and test another small amount of pesto. Add remaining tablespoon of lemon juice as needed to balance the flavours. Transfer combined pesto to a small bowl and set aside.
- Tagliatelle: read and follow the packet instructions to cook the tagliatelle in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water. Before draining, use a heatproof jug to scoop out 1 to 2 cups of pasta water. Then use a colander to drain the pasta and discard the water.
- Combine pesto and pasta: add the cooked tagliatelle to a large sauté pan, resting on a heatproof surface (no stove required). Dollop in the pesto. Pour in ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and use a wooden spoon and pair of kitchen tongs to toss and combine. Keep tossing till the pasta, water and pesto is consistently combined.
- Serve: portion the tagliatelle pesto into serving bowls, garnish with freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, cracked black pepper and basil leaves. Provide forks and spoons.
- Note 1 - Pine nuts: you can also toast some of these to garnish the top of the dish if you want to. Substitute the equivalent amount of pistachios, cashews or walnuts if you want to try something different for the pesto.
- Note 2 - Garlic cloves: if using fresh cloves, use a knife and chopping board to cut the small end bit of the base, before adding to the food processor. You can use ½ to 1 tablespoon of minced garlic if you don't have garlic cloves.
- Note 3 - Lemon juice: this lifts the flavour of the pesto, but can also quickly over power it if too much juice is used. So taste the pesto before adding any lemon juice, then add 1 tablespoon and combine, then taste again before deciding if you want to add the other tablespoon. You will know quickly from the taste if it is spot on or needs the extra amount. (I do use the 2 tablespoons, but also taste it repeatedly to ensure that specific batch of pesto needs the 2)
- Note 4 - Reserved pasta water: we only need ½ cup of this for the recipe. It is added once the cooked tagliatelle and pesto have been added to the sauté pan together. Pour it in slowly and then use a wooden spoon and tongs to toss and combine. I refer in the post to taking out 1 to 2 cups. This is because you can leave this in the fridge in a sealed, jar with lid and then use a little to juice up the leftovers before heating (simply drizzle it in and then stir).